Police in Burundi have dismissed as rumours reports that the country had been infiltrated by the rebel group FDLR, even as Rwanda is reported to be closely monitoring events in the neighbouring country.
“It is not true. There are no Interahamwe or FDLR in Bujumbura, let alone in Burundi. These are rumours being spread to scare people,” the head of Burundian Police Ndereya Ndayambaje said.
Sources in the Rwandan government said that they feared that if the security situation in Burundi deteriorated further, Rwanda could be directly exposed to security threats.
“An unstable Burundi is a cause for concern for Rwanda because it presents a serious security threat as an entry point for negative forces that would want to destabilise Rwanda. That is why Rwanda is on alert to see how things will turn out,” an intelligence source told The EastAfrican.
The sources however, have ruled out the possibility of getting involved in Burundi politics, saying that the country does not want to be dragged into the conflict.
The sources argue that this will only play into the hands of Kigali’s enemies and critics who portray Rwanda as the ogre of the Great Lakes Region.
“If there is going to be an intervention in Burundi, it has to be at a regional level,” said a well-placed source in Kigali.
Sources further indicate that the situation in Burundi is a delicate one for the two neighbours who share a similar history of ethnic strife and political instability, so much so that unrest in one country could easily spill over into the other.
Rwanda is already overwhelmed by an influx of refugees fleeing Burundi. So far, more that 20,000 Burundians have sought refuge in Rwanda.
Two weeks ago, as more Burundians crossed into Rwanda, President Pierre Nkurunziza made an impromptu visit to Rwanda, where he met his Rwandan counterpart President Paul Kagame in the southern town of Huye.
The two leaders had “closed talks” but sources reveal that besides the issue of refugees, the two presidents touched on the political future of Burundi, a country currently on the brink of political instability occasioned by President Nkurunzinza’s insistence on running for a third term.
President Kagame has tactfully avoided commenting on the political situation in Burundi, a country which remains deeply torn between ethnic Hutu and Tutsi, instead preferring to look at the situation from a regional context.
President Kagame said that the East African region should be able to intervene in Burundi, if Burundians fail to resolve their problems.